Monday, November 2, 2015


January 1778: William Pickles,commissioned by the Continental Navy in October, 1776, was ordered to New Orleans  by the Continental Congress.

James Willing (c.1750–1801), a struggling Philadelphia merchant with business interests on the lower Mississippi River, persuaded Congress in January 1778 to finance him in an expedition against Loyalist settlements along the river above New Orleans. Willing accordingly was commissioned a captain in the Continental navy, and with twenty-nine men of the 13th Virginia Regiment, later joined by “a Body of Banditti, amounting in the whole to about one hundred men,” he left Fort Pitt on 11 Jan. 1778 on the gunboat U.S.S. Rattletrap (see Haynes, “James Willing”).

March 7, 1778: James Willing landed at Big Black.

mid-March 1778: Captain Pickles arrived in New Orleans and took command of U.S.S. Morris(see THE APOTHEOSIS OF WASHINGTON). It was a prize vessel named REBECCA that had been fitted out by Oliver Pollack.

October 1778: Willing took a sloop from New Orleans bound for Philadelphia but was captured.

December 1778: Willing escaped the British in New York(?) but is recaptured and stays in captivity until being exchanged in the spring of 1781.

August 18, 1779: Storm sank U.S.S. Morris in the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge and 11 of the crew drowned. A second U.S.S. Morris was outfitted by Galvez.

early September 1779: British in West Florida learn of the Spanish declaration of war.

September 10, 1779: A British sloop is captured on Lake Ponchartrain and is commissioned the U.S.S. West Florida. British citizens living on the lake gave oaths of allegiance to "THE UNITED INDEPENDENT STATES OF NORTH AMERICA."

Close of 1779???: Willing was in chains in Fort Charlotte of Mobile for distributing the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE(see DUNLAP BROADSIDE).

Willing’s party proceeded down the Ohio River to the Mississippi, reaching Natchez, Miss., on 19 Feb., raiding the surrounding countryside, and carrying a substantial amount of plunder into Spanish-controlled New Orleans. Willing’s presence in that city embarrassed the Spanish governor and enraged and alarmed Loyalists all the way to Florida, spurring the British to reinforce West Florida and send a flotilla to blockade New Orleans and the Mississippi. Willing was unable to leave New Orleans until October 1778, when he boarded a sloop for Philadelphia and was captured as described here by Costigin. The British, perhaps unsurprisingly, did not treat Willing well; and it was not until the spring of 1781, after being “peculiarly severely treated by the enemy,” that he was exchanged (GW to Board of War, 1 May 1781). For more on Willing’s expedition, see Caughey, “Willing’s Expedition”; and Naval Documents, 10:769, 780).

January 20, 1780: Oliver Pollack, agent of the Continental Congress in New Orleans, appointed Navy Captain William Pickles to command the sloop WEST FLORIDA belonging to the United States. The WEST FLORIDA mounted four 6 pounders and twelve swivel guns. It was provisioned for 60 days and had a crew of 58. Pickles was to assist Galvez in the campaigns against Mobile and Pensacola for a period of 20 days, or longer if necessary. 

April 28, 1781: Over 100 Royalist men, women and slaves flee Natchez on a 149 day journey east through the wilderness.

November 2, 1782: Crew of the U.S.S. West Florida wrote Pollack and said Pickles owed them money. One year later Pickles was stabbed to death in Philadelphia.

December, 1800: Andrew Ellicott enjoyed the hospitality of woodcutters working for the U.S. Navy at Point Peter. "When I arrived at St. Mary’s on the 8th. of December 1799, I found that neither quarters, nor wood could be had without some expense with the inhabitants, I therefore went into the woods near Point Peter among the wood cutters, who were cutting timber for our Navy, and resided without any other expense, than that of provis[i]on, till the 20th. of January 1800, when we proceeded to the source of the St. Mary’s."

July 1812: Troops under General Ferdinand Claiborne raised the American flag on Isla Delphina(Dauphin Island) and ordered the Spanish guard on the island “to withdraw or be regarded as prisoners of war.” The pilot was ordered not to aid Spanish or British vessels. The Spanish guard remained on Dauphin Island.
August 4, 1812: U.S. Council of War in New Orleans votes that they are not qualified to give an opinion on General Wilkinson’s proposal that the Spanish pilot of Dauphin Island should be forcibly removed.

August 19, 1812: New Orleans hurricane destroys U.S. Navy station at New Orleans.
February 12, 1813: President Madison signed a bill that ordered the army and navy to seize Mobile.
February 16, 1813:  Secretary of War Armstrong sent orders to General Wilkinson in New Orleans to capture Mobile.
March 14, 1813:  General James Wilkinson in New Orleans received his orders from Secretary of War Armstrong to take possession of the country west of the Perdido River and “particularly of the town and fortress of Mobile.”
April 4, 1813:  Commodore Shaw arrived at Pass Christian and picked up 30 scaling ladders built to the exact specifications needed to allow troops to climb the walls of Fuerte Carlota (Ft. Conde).

Saturday, April 10, 1813:  Some U.S. gunboats sailed through Pass Heron in present day southeastern Mobile County while Commodore Shaw crossed into the open sea between Horn and Petit Bois Island.

Saturday night, April 10, 1813:  Captain Atkinson and his detachment of U.S. troops arrived on Isla Delfina (Dauphin Island). The next, morning, Sunday, April 11, they expelled the Spanish guard on Dauphin Island and captured the pilot.

Saturday night, April 10, 1813:  Commodore Shaw on the armed boat ALLIGATOR and Lieutenant Roney’s bark captured Spanish ships in Mobile Bay.

On Saturday, April 10, 1813, near Grand Bay, the flotilla that made up the American invading force split into two divisions. The armed schooner ALLIGATOR carrying General Wilkinson and Commodore Shaw along with Lieutenant Roney’s gunboat, sailed out to sea by way of the Horn Island Channel off the west end of Petit Bois Island. The rest of the flotilla consisting of at least three gunboats and fourteen small transports carrying over 600 soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 3rd and 7th regiments headed toward Heron Pass.

 On the night of the 10th, Captain Atkinson and a small detachment of American soldiers landed on what was then the Spanish island of Isla Delfina and captured the Spanish guard consisting of a corporal and six men along with the Mobile Ship Channel pilot.

When the sun came up on Sunday, April 11, 1813, it was Isla Delfina no more. For the first time in American history, the Stars and Stripes flew on the American shores of Dauphin Island and the Spaniards were placed on a galley scheduled to sail for Pensacola. In the meantime, the ALLIGATOR and other American gunboats cruised the mouth of the bay between here and what is now Ft. Morgan, blockading all ships and preventing them from entering or leaving Mobile Bay. They captured several ships including a Spanish transport carrying an artillery lieutenant, a detachment of troops and supplies destined for the Spanish fort in Mobile.

The armed schooner ALLIGATOR carrying General Wilkinson and Commodore Shaw eventually anchored off Dauphin Island and held a council of war to make plans for landing the invading force. This meeting must have included a representative from Colonel Bowyer who had brought an army unit down from Mt. Vernon. Boyer’s 200 men carried five bronze field cannon with them and had earlier crossed the delta on Mims’ Ferry and had marched from Fort Mims down the Tensaw River Road through Stockton. Boyer’s job was to dig his cannon emplacements on Blakeley Island across the river from Fuerte Carlota, the Spanish fort in Mobile.

As the sun sat on Dauphin Island’s first day as American territory, the American flotilla approached the north bank of Dog River and prepared for the invasion and capture of Mobile on Monday, April 12th.


April 11, 1813:  The Spaniards captured the night before on Dauphin Island sailed toward Pensacola.

April 12, 1813:  The galley carrying the Spanish guard from Dauphin Island rowed into Pensacola.

April 12, 1813:  General Wilkinson issued a proclamation to the citizens of Mobile and demanded the surrender of the Spanish commander of Fuerte Carlota (Ft. Conde) and ordered the immediate evacuation of all Spanish troops from Mobile.

Friday, April 15, 1813: The Spanish troops evacuated Fuerte Carlota (Ft. Conde) and boarded a ship sailing for Pensacola. The U.S. occupied Mobile for the first time.

April 17, 1813:  Colonel Carson took the west bank of the Perdido near present day Orange Beach, Alabama and was ordered to build a stockade by General Wilkinson.

April 20, 1813:  General Wilkinson visited Mobile Point for the first time and staked out a fort he called SERAF. This became Ft. Boyer and Wilkinson also recommended building a cooperating battery on Dauphin Island but this part of his plan was either ignored or abandoned.  Wilkinson then traveled via the Bon Secour River to a site on the west bank of the Perdido where he recommended building a stockade.

July 1814: U.S. Navy Commodore Patterson of New Orleans sailed to Dauphin Island to assist a stranded cargo ship. The Royal Navy was already beginning their naval blockade of the mouth of the Mississippi and was using Dauphin Island as a camp on their supply line.

August 10, 1814:
The British government officially authorizes a secret expedition against Louisiana. Admiral Cochrane is ordered to capture the mouths of the Mississippi River and the port of New Orleans. Expedition forces are to rendezvous at Negril Bay, Jamaica, no later than November 20.

August 22, 1814: Jackson arrived in Mobile on the same day American Commodore Joshua Barney scuttled his fleet of gunboats in the Patuxent River in Maryland while being pursued by the British coming from the Chesapeake. In Mobile, Jackson met Major William L. Lawrence before the Major embarked for Mobile Point with 160 men to restore the defense of Fort Bowyer. 

August 22, 1814: The 65 ton schooner, Speedwell (probably about 63 feet long), was captured by the British on the Patuxent River in Prince George County, Maryland at the same time that U.S. Commodore Joshua Barney scuttled his U.S. Navy gunboats in the same river. In February of 1815, the Speedwell was at Dauphin Island serving as a tender for Admiral Malcolm's HMS ROYAL OAK. It also held a Royal Navy sailor as a prisoner because he refused to participate in the New Orleans Campaign. On February 17, 1815, this sailor who claimed to be an American, Archibald W. Hamilton, was released at Dauphin Island from the Speedwell by the British.

August 23, 1814: The USS Carolina, a 14 gun schooner, arrived in New Orleans. The ship had been requested by Commodore Patterson for his plan to attack and destroy LaFitte's Barataria Bay headquarters which the Carolina accomplished in September. The ship stayed in the New Orleans area and was the key to the American victory in the Night Battle of December 23 which slowed the British disembarkation and set the stage for the main battle on January 8.

September 11, 1814:The HMS Sophie captained by Nicholas Lockyer returned to Pensacola from their mission to Barataria to meet Lafitte..A few days' previous, she had chased a Baratarian privateer and seized its prize, a Spanish ship, which was manned by some men from the Sophie to go to Pensacola. On the way, the Spanish ship grounded at Dauphin Island and the Americans at Ft. Bowyer captured the ship and crew. Gen. Jackson proceeded to hold the Spanish crew members hostage for an earlier raid on Mobile.

 U.S. Captain MacDonough won a great naval victory over the British on Lake Champlain.

September 13, 1814: Commodore Daniel Patterson on board the USS Carolina embarked from New Orleans for LaFitte's Barataria Bay headquarters along with 6 gunboats and a tender.

September 13, 1814: General Andrew Jackson sailed toward Fort Bowyer on Mobile Bay but is stopped by Americans in a boat bound for Mobile near the mouth of Mobile Bay and informed that the British amphibious attack on Fort Bowyer had begun. Jackson's boat turns around and sails back to Dog River. These Americans prevented Jackson from sailing directly into the British naval fleet off Fort Bowyer.

September 16, 1814: Commodore Patterson and Col. George Ross arrived at Grande Terre and proceeded to raid and burn Lafitte's warehouses and most of the ships on Barataria Bay west of New Orleans. Patterson's U.S.S Carolina was not part of the raid as she was unable to enter the bay due to the low water of the bar. Eighty Baratarians were arrested and sent to New Orleans, along with six privateer ships. Commodore Patterson also brought 20 naval guns back to New Orleans.

United States naval forces commanded by Master Commandant Daniel Patterson attack the Baratarian pirates at Grande Terre, Louisiana, capturing 80 men and 26 vessels.

Also on September 16, a group of New Orleans citizens met at Tremoulet's Coffee House and appointed a committee of defense to cooperate with the general government. Edward Livingston was appointed president of that committee.

December 9, 1814: (from Judge Alexander Walker's book "Jackson and New Orleans)
"The pilots, who have accompanied the fleets from the 
West Indies, have announced that the land is not far 
off and all parties are on deck, eagerly straining their eyes for a view of the desired shore. There, in the distance, they soon discover a
long, shining white line, 
which sparkles in the sun like an island of fire.
Presently it becomes more distinct and substantial 
and the man at the look-out proclaims 'land ahead'. 
The leading ships approach as near 
as is prudent and their crews, especially the land 
troops, experience no little disappointment at the 
bleak and forbidding aspect of Dauphin Island, 
with its long, sandy 
beach, its dreary, stunted pines, and the entire 
absence of any vestige of settlement or cultivation. 
Turning to the west, the fleet avoids the island and 
proceeds towards a favorable anchorage in the 
direction of the Chandeleur islands, the wind in the 
meantime having chopped around and blowing 
too strong from the shore to justify 
an attempt to enter the lake at night. 
"As the Tonnant and Seahorse pass near to Dauphin 
Island, the attention of the Vice-Admiral 
is called to two small vessels, 
lying between the island and the 
shore. They are neat little craft, sloop-rigged, and 
evidently armed. They appear to be watching the 
movements of the British ships and when the latter 
take a western course, they weigh anchor and 
follow in the same direction. 
At night-fall the signal 
'to anchor' is made from the Tonnant and the order 
is quickly obeyed by all the vessels in the squadron." 
"The suspicious little sloops, as if in apprehension 
of a night attack of boats, then press all sail and 
proceed in the direction of Biloxi Bay. They prove to be the United States gunboats No. 23, Lieutenant 
McKeever, (afterwards Commodore McKeever) , No. 163, 
Sailing Master Ulrick, which had been detached from 
the squadron of Lieutenant Thomas Ap Catesby Jones 
(later the Commodore Jones 
who ran up the first American flag at Monterey, 
California, in 1847), who had been sent by Commodore 
Patterson with six gunboats, one tender, and a 
despatch boat, to watch and report the approach 
of the British. In case their 
fleet succeeded in entering 
the lake, he was to be prepared to cut 
off their barges and prevent the landing of the 
troops. If hard pressed by a superior force, his 
orders were to fall back upon a mud fort, the Petites Coquilles, near the mouth of the Rigolets and shelter his vessels under its guns. 

"The two boats which had attracted the notice of the 
British Vice-Admiral, joined the others of the 
squadron that night near Biloxi. The next day, 
the 10th of December, at dawn, 
or as soon as the fog cleared off, 
Jones was amazed to observe the deep water 
between Ship and Cat Islands where the current flows, 
crowded with ships and vessels of every calibre and 
description. The Tonnant having anchored off the 
Chandeleurs, the Seahorse was now the foremost ship. 
Jones immediately made for Pass Christian with
his little fleet, where he anchored,and quietly 
awaited the approach of the British vessels.

December 13, 1814: The troop frigates and transports moved up to an anchorage north of the Chandaleurs which was located in the Mississippi Sound between Cat Island and the mainland. The USS Sea Horse battled  British troop transports in water between Bay St. Louis and Lake Borgne.

image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812
December 14, 1814: Battle of Lake Borgne U.S. Navy commanded by Thomas ap Catesby Jones 
The boats of the following British ships took part in the action on Lake Borgne: HMS TONNANT      HMS NORGE     HMS BEDFORD      HMS RAMILLIES HMS ROYAL OAK   HMS ARMIDE    HMS SEAHORSE    HMS CYDNUS HMS TRAAVE          HMS SOPHIE    HMS METEOR         HMS BELLE POULE HMS GORGON        HMS ALCESTE  HMS DIOMEDE       HMS WESER December 15, 1814: Lieutenant Peddie and  Captain Spencer put on fishermen's clothing and reconnoiter the shore around the Rigolets. They rent a boat at the Fishermen's Village near the mouth of Bayou Bienvenue and are able to travel all the way to the east bank of the Mississippi below New Orleans.(Journal of British Quartermaster Forrest). Latour gives this reconnaissance as occurring on December 20. Latour also lists the names of Spanish and Portuguese fisherman from the Fisherman's Village who betrayed the United States by helping the British in various ways. These appear to be some of the only people in West Florida or Louisiana to help the British. This is a quote from British Quartermaster Forrester, "A second (difficulty) was the impossibility of gaining intelligence- the inhabitants had abandoned their houses, and not a single deserter came over to us- the information of the prisoners taken was vague and contradictory, that of the Negroes trifling and unsatisfactory."
December 23, 1814: The British advanced toward New Orleans along Bayou Bienvenue and made their headquarters at the Villere Plantation located near the head of the bayou at the Mississippi River south of the city. The son of the owner of the plantation was arrested by the British but he escaped to warn Jackson who immediately organized a night attack against the British camp. Shells fired in the British camp from the USS Carolina anchored in the Mississippi were a key to the American victory which slowed the British disembarkation and set the stage for the main battle on January 8.
December 23, 1814: FROM Landing and Night Battle A British advance force ascends Bayou Catalan (Bienvenue) and VillerĂ©'s Canal to the Mississippi River, capturing 30 Louisiana militia posted in VillerĂ©'s house as well as Major Gabriel VillerĂ©, who subsequently escapes. Jackson attacks after nightfall, stopping the British advance; the Americans fall back and begin construction of a defensive line behind the Rodriguez Canal.
February 16, 1815: The United States and Great Britain exchange ratifications of the Ghent Treaty in Washington, thus officially ending the War of 1812.
February 17, 1815: After receiving confirmation that peace had been declared, the British released their American prisoners held in the ships anchored off Dauphin Island. British used this truce as an opportunity to ship supplies from Dauphin Island to their Indian and Negro allies on the Apalachicola. A man who claimed to be an American serving in the Royal Navy, Archibald W. Hamilton, came to be released from his confinement at Dauphin Island on February 17. He had been held a prisoner on the schooner SPEEDWELL, a boat from Prince George County Maryland that was captured Aug. 22, 1814 in the Patuxent River at the same time Commodore Barney scuttled his U.S. Navy convoy to avoid capture. Hamilton claimed to be an American who volunteered to be a sailor in the Royal Navy in 1809 because he wanted to learn the maritime trade. He served until he found out they were trying to capture New Orleans and so he was imprisoned on the Speedwell which had been converted by Admiral Malcolm into a tender for the HMS Royal Oak. The reason we have so much documentation is that the Hamilton filed a claim for compensation FROM THE U.S. CONGRESS plus George Biscoe, the original owner of the Speedwell used a Hamilton deposition for his own compensatory claim to the Congress. Of course, the Congress turned Hamilton down.
February 19, 1815: British Major-General John Lambert wrote Jackson that he had informed Edward Livingston,then with the British fleet at Dauphin Island, that the British were ready to exchange the Fort Bowyer prisoners and the Battle of Lake Borgne prisoners who had just been returned to Dauphin Island from Havana where they had been held since their U.S. Navy ships had been captured on December 14.
July 26, 1816:"By 1816 over 800 freedmen and women had settled around the fort, there were also friendly natives in the area. Following the construction of Fort Scott on the Flint River by Colonel Duncan Lamont Clinch of the United States Army, Andrew Jackson decided that to resupply the post, they would have to use the navy to transport goods via the Apalachicola through the sovereign territory of Spain without their permission. During one of these resupply missions, a party of sailors from gunboats 149 and 154 stopped along the river near Negro Fort to fill their canteens with water. While doing so, they were attacked by the garrison of the fort and all but one of the Americans were killed.[1][3]"
"It was daytime when Master Jarius Loomis ordered his gunners to open fire. After only five to nine rounds of hot shot, a cannon ball entered the fort's powder magazine. The ensuing explosion was massive and destroyed the entire post. Almost all of the occupants were killed or wounded, and just afterward, the American column and the Creeks charged and captured the surviving defenders. General Gaines later said that the "explosion was awful and the scene horrible beyond description." There apparently were no American casualties.[1][3]"
1826-1860 : Raphael Semmes served in the U.S. Navy.
1825-1860: Confederate Chief of Sea Coast, River and Harbor Defences Maury served in the U.S. Navy.
1815-1860: Confederate Admiral Buchanan served in the U.S. Navy.
1835-1860: Catesby ap Roger Jones served in the U.S. Navy.
1850: Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory chairs Senate Naval Affairs Committee.
  • 1836-1837: removed from Georgia and Alabama to eastern Oklahoma. Some were taken by a southern route to New Orleans and then by steamboats (Monmouth) up the Mississippi River to Arkansas. The Monmouth collided with the Trenton more than 300 Creeks drowned. During removal 3,500 died of the 15,000.
  • "A sixth detachment, consisting of relatives of the warriors who had remained behind to fight alongside federal troops against the Seminoles, were told that they would be allowed to remain in east-central Alabama until the warriors' tours of duty were over. But whites harassed the Creeks as they waited in camp, and the government moved them to Mobile Point. While at Mobile Point, the Creeks were plagued with sickness, and many died. The government then decided to move them to Pass Christian, Mississippi, which was considered healthier. In October 1837, after the warriors returned from Florida, the entire group departed Pass Christian for New Orleans, where they boarded steamboats for the trip up the Mississippi River. During the journey, the steamboat Monmouth was cut in two by another steamboat as it ascended the Mississippi, and approximately half of the 600 Creeks aboard died in the collision."

1847: (Alexander Dallas Bache) The oldest U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey marker on the Gulf Coast (1847) is inside Ft. Gaines.